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SMIF awards COVID grants to small towns

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently approved 22 grants through its Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response program totaling $192,500 to support towns of 10,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region, according to a press release.

The Small Town Grant program was launched in 2017 to support smaller communities which often lack sufficient financial resources to help them grow and address challenges. Since then, SMIF has supported 43 towns, and a wide variety of initiatives, through the grant.

This year, the grant program was entirely focused on responding to the needs that have emerged or increased as a result of the pandemic. Funding requests addressed issues including technology needs for equitable distance learning, support for food shelves due to increased demand and programs that assist businesses experiencing financial hardship.

Local recipients of the program were Alden Area Food Shelf, which received $5,000 for food pantry equipment to support an expansion in storage space due to an increase in demand, and to support the Alden-Conger School District Backpack Program which provides meals to students; and Jobs Plus Incorporated in Waseca County, which received $5,000 to provide day and employment supports to individuals with disabilities, for personal protective equipment and cleaning equipment to ensure the health and safety of these individuals.

“We are honored to be able to support the most immediate needs of some of our smallest communities during this health and economic crisis,” said SMIF President and CEO Tim Penny. “We hope this funding will have a lasting impact in these towns, long after the pandemic is over.”

In addition to this program, SMIF has been providing direct support to entrepreneurs, early childhood professionals and communities through the crisis, nearing $11 million in impact with the support of many partners. For more information, visit smifoundation.org/covid-19.

The Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response grants are made possible with support from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund at the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

SMIF, a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The foundation has provided more than $121 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 34 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about the work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.